A Time of Omens

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Subjects Fantasy Fiction. Book two of the Westlands Cycle and the sixth book in the celebrated Deverry series, an epic fantasy rooted in Celtic mythology that intricately interweaves human and elven history over several hundred years. Book six of the celebrated Deverry series, an epic fantasy rooted in Celtic mythology that intricately interweaves human and elven history over several hundred years.

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The Westfolk are longer-lived than humans, with a lifespan measured in centuries, but have fewer children than humans do. The Westfolk also have sharper vision than humans, being able to see clearly in very low light. Another major difference is that the Westfolk remain youthfully vigorous for most of their adult lives, and begin to age only near the end of their lives.

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The Westfolk are cross-fertile with humans, and the children of such unions generally resemble humans more than elves, although they may exhibit some elvish traits slightly sharp ears, an extended lifespan, and a long period of youthful vigor. The Westfolk are nomads, wandering the grasslands to the west of Deverry. They formerly dwelt in seven great cities further west, but the cities were sacked by marauding Horsekin about a thousand years before the present-time narrative of the novels. There is a second, smaller population of Westfolk dwelling on an island south of the Bardekian archipelago, and another far to the west of Annwn past their destroyed cities.

Living in the mountains north of Deverry, the Mountain Folk, or dwarves , are short but stocky. Like the elves, they have a significantly longer lifespan than humans and are cross-fertile with them. They likewise share the elven ability to see in the dark. Like many versions of dwarves in fantasy fiction, they have a predilection for mining and metalworking. There are two different dwarven populations, both of which live in cities that are partially or primarily underground, and which make use of artificial and natural caves and tunnels.

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Dwarven culture emphasizes thrift and takes debt and obligations of all types very seriously. They distrust the Westfolk, considering them to be thieves.

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Connected with the dwarves is a remote and sparsely populated city, Haen Marn, which travels through space and possibly time. The Guardians are spirits who dwell in one of the higher planes. Though they were meant to incarnate like all other souls, they somehow stayed behind. Most have no sense of individuality. Some Guardians have great magical prowess, most notably Evandar who is responsible for bringing the original human settlers of Deverry from our world to Annwn.

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A large and hairy humanoid species which possesses a strong psychic talent which manifests as animal empathy. They are responsible for the destruction of the former elven civilization having been pushed out of their own homelands by the humans when they arrived in Annwn. They are referred to by the elves as demons and also as Hordes.

Because one of their cultural practices is to eat the flesh of their own dead, the Horsekin were struck with a cholera -like plague which almost completely destroyed their population. The survivors abandoned the elven cities and constructed new settlements nearby.

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Introduced in the penultimate volume after some brief foreshadowing in the previous work is another species that provides an elemental affinity to Water. Dwrgi appear to be shape-changers, able to shift from human or near-human: their features as described hint at their alternate form, since their hair is particularly short and thick and their brows low to otter-like form. There are at least two tribes or communities of them, loosely allied.

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Resembling the legendary creatures in European folklore and mythology, the dragons are enormous, four-legged reptiles with two batlike wings and long tails. Unlike legendary dragons, however, they neither breathe fire nor hoard wealth. Dragons appear to have all originated in the "real" world but been convinced to move to Annwn by Evandar. Dragons dwell in the mountains north even of the Rhiddaer. Dragons appear to live alone or in mated pairs. Magic and sorcery are featured prominently in the Deverry novels.

The fictional magical tradition practiced in the books, called " dweomer ," is described as a personal journey toward spiritual enlightenment. The effects of magic on the material world, while spectacular, are secondary. Within the books, there are two differing schools of thought about how magic should be used.

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